Jeremy Evans: Odd Man Out?

August 13th, 2013 | by Denim Millward

When I think of Jeremy Evans and his role on the Utah Jazz for the upcoming 2013-2014, I think of Stephen Root’s character Milton Waddams from the cult classic Office Space. 

No, I don’t see the almost impossibly nice Evans as a softly-muttering sad sack who will eventually commit arson to avenge the wrongs done to him.  However, one scene in particular sums up the analogy perfectly.  In this scene, cake is being passed around to celebrate evil Initech boss Bill Lumberg’s birthday.  Milton takes a piece and is about to dig in, when he is accosted by another co-worker to pass the cake around.  Milton meekly protests that last time cake was served in the office he didn’t get a piece but passes the cake to the next employee.  The pieces of cake are continued to be passed around until predictably, the cake runs out, everyone but Milton enjoying a piece.

Jeremy Evans is Milton Waddams, and cake is playing time for the 2013-14 season.

Prior to the upcoming season, Evans’ lack of minutes was understandable and easily explained.  Evans was buried behind four extremely talented frontcourt players in Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, all of whom deserved playing time over Evans.  With the departures of Millsap and Jefferson earlier this summer, it seemed the time had come for Evans to be thrust into a consistent role with significant floor time.

You don’t get to eat that cake just yet, Milton.

A few issues present themselves with giving Evans serious run.  First, the starting frontcourt is locked up, with the dynamic duo of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter filling the void left by Millsap and Jefferson.  It seems simple to just promote Evans to third big and be done with it, but it doesn’t seem to be quite that simple.  If Utah brings Evans off the bench as the third big, he’ll either always be playing alongside one of the starters or in tandem with another 2nd-tier big man.  If Utah shortens it’s rotation in the frontcourt to three players, Favors and Kanter’s minutes would see a huge increase, likely a larger increase than the Jazz front office wants to see.  Yes, we all want to see what Favors and Kanter can do this year with legitimate starter’s minutes, but we also don’t want them to wear down over the course of an already-lost season.

The other option that seems more likely is to play Evans with either Rudy Gobert or newly-acquired center Andris Biedrins.  While aesthetically amusing to watch, Evans and Gobert together would have serious issues scoring the ball and could be pushed around by bigger and bulkier frontcourt foes.  Logic also dictates the Jazz have much more interest in giving Gobert valuable NBA experience than giving it to Evans, considering the large chunk of change the Miller family plunked down to acquire Gobert on draft night.

Evans and Biedrins isn’t tremendously more appealing considering how one-dimensional the pairing would be.  Yes, the defense would likely be very good to great, but the offense would range from anemic to completely nonexistent.  Some may question giving Biedrins, whose game fell off a cliff last year, playing time in favor of Evans, but there are a few logical reasons this would be done.  First, Biedrins has showed his ability to play at or near an All-Star level in the past.  Yes, his dumpster fire of a season last year seems to indicate that his better days are a distant memory, but a mini-renaissance on a new team and with a new coaching staff that has every reason to right the Biedrins ship is not out of the question.  Revitalizing the lanky Latvian could make him a valuable asset the Jazz could deal at the trade deadline, either as simply an expiring contract or as added frontcourt depth and defensive prowess to a contending team, for even more assets.  Getting paid to take on Biedrins and getting paid to trade him away would make GM Dennis Lindsey a folk hero in the Beehive State.

Evans’ numbers per-36-minutes are unsurprisingly good (12.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks), as Evans has always been very productive in the small amount of run he’s gotten so far.  There are arguments to be made on both sides whether or not those numbers would carry over to an increased workload against better NBA talent.  Evans also has to be the undisputed king of NBA preseason highlights.

Remember this one?

How about this one?

It’s no wonder Evans’ supporters are clamoring for a prominent role after watching him demolish Ronny Turiaf and Gerald Wallace.  Evans minutes should increase this year, but to what extent?  Is it improbable that we could see a Rudy Gobert/Andris Biedrins 2nd-team frontcourt succeed?  What if Utah splits the second-team post position minutes evenly between the Gobert, Biedrins and Evans?  This is not even mentioning the postulating that Marvin Williams could be utilized as a stretch 4 off the bench, further adding to the logjam behind Favors and Kanter.

Sorry Milton.  Not only did Lumbergh take your red stapler, but he could also be relocating your office to the basement.

Denim Millward

Denim Millward

Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
Denim Millward

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  1. Geoff says:

    Great read. I dont ever remember Evans getting minutes without producing and making the most of em. Sure, he lacks the big body you ideally need your 4’s and 5’s to have and is pretty easily backed down on d cause of that. But he’s a player I’ve really come to admire and I hope there’s a team out there that can someday benefit from him. I think there is teams that could certainly benefit from his athleticism and if not with the Jazz, I sure hope to see the guy succeed in the league someday.

  2. Roy Smith says:

    I can’t conceive any possible scenarios where Jefferson plays more minutes than Evans off this bench at SF. If Lindsey is truly married to the idea of rebuilding and giving the keys to the youngsters, then it’s a forgone conclusion that Evans will be seeing a significant increase in playing time this season.

  3. Laura Thompson says:

    I’ll never forget the block on Turiaf followed by that dunk, mostly because I was there and it electrified the place. Which is saying a lot since it was in LA and in the preseason. But it was that awesome.

    I do hope Evans gets some decent burn this year. You know what I hadn’t realized until just now, checking his stats? His minutes per game have decreased every season. Yikes! From 9:24 to 7:30 to 5:47. How’s he supposed to get better with decreasing minutes? Now I’m even more impressed that he’s been able to produce at all, garbage time or not, considering that.

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  5. Clint Johnson says:

    I hope to see a Gobert-Evans-Williams front court off the bench. Williams would add some bulk and rebounding at small forward and can stretch the floor, and that would be needed with Gobert and Evans playing together. If need be, Williams could even defend bulkier power forwards, leaving Evans as a help defender. They may struggle offensively (though forcing Williams into a primary scoring role might be what he needs to reclaim his game), but they’d contest shots like crazy.

    Personally, I would play Burks and Hayward with this lineup. It would be a very strong defensive squad that could, hopefully, generate points in transition as all five can run.

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